Turkish president insults Greece in front of largest gathering of European leaders

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insulted Greece yesterday at the largest gathering of European leaders at the informal EU Summit in the Czech Republic.
In a break from protocol, the Turkish leader asks to speak at the Summit's formal dinner, prior to the commencement of proceedings, where he launched into an angry tirade against Greece.
European leaders were left stunned by Erdogan's behaviour with many commentators in Greece claiming that now Europe saw first-hand what Greece and the Greek government has to deal with on a daily basis.  Following Erdogan's speech, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, asked for permission to respond.
The Greek Prime Minister took the floor where he rebuked Turkish threats and called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to commence dialogue and behave like a responsible leader.

Speaking later to Greek reporters about Erdogan's confrontational behavior at the meeting, Mitsotakis said that "the government and I personally will not allow any challenge to go by without responding. I believe that all participants saw for themselves and reached their own conclusions."

The Greek premier expressed the belief that a statement made by Erdogan that Turkey will come at night sounded more ambiguous than threatening, based on the simultaneous translation.

"I will take the positive interpretation and say that no, it was not a threat against Greece. I cannot imagine us continuing in this climate. I make a note of what he said that Turkey has no intention to challenge the national sovereignty of any other country. I make a note of this as a comment toward a positive direction. I just hope that this is followed up and an end is put at last to this unacceptable rhetoric of challenging Greece's national sovereignty as far as the East Aegean islands are concerned," he added.

Mitsotakis expressed the hope that an option to allow the European Council to impose sanctions on Turkey if it "crosses the red lines" is not activated. He also noted that the 8th package of sanctions recently approved over Russia's invasion in Ukraine also includes "for the first time, sanctions against Turkish entities and individuals" that violate EU sanctions to the detriment of other countries, members of the European Union that implement the sanctions. "It's a step in the right direction," he stressed.

Commenting on a heated exchange between the two leaders during the official dinner on Thursday, Mitsotakis said that some things need to be aired publicly. "Maybe the Turkish president is not used to responses to his opinions, but this is how we operate in the European family, that's how the European Political Community also works," he underlined.

He added, however, that "I hope that this exchange of opinions may work to defuse the situation and we can set the pace for a de-escalation of verbal tensions and sit down at last (...) to discuss confidence-building measures, and also return to talks for the main issue, which is historically our only difference, the delimitation of maritime zones in the Aegean and the East Mediterranean," the Greek premier said.